Is there such a thing as empiricaly good (or bad) in food?

On Top Chef all-stars, a contestent made a dish and described it as something she grew up eating. Later, Tom Colicchio remarked at judge's table, "You know, just because you grew up eating something doesn't mean it's good!" That sort of stuck with me and got me thinking about what does that mean: 'good'? I got the distinct feeling from his comment that he was not equating good with tasty, but using some other standard.

So, is there an empiric 'good' when it comes to food (reading the thread here on 'what's one food everyone seems to love but you can't get into' leads me to believe that no, there is not). But if I don't like one of your family's traditional dishes, if it's prepared correctly with no technical problems like overseasoning or burnt/undercooked bits, do I have the right to say it isn't 'good'? Can something be tasty and not be 'good' if it's technically flawless from a technical standpoint?


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